E Mullah الیکٹرونک مُلا: Blasphemy II .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Monday, February 06, 2006

Blasphemy II


I have tried to write several times over the weekend, something on the issue of Danish trouble or Iconic Blasphemy in Islam, but every time I am confronted with the question of marginal utility of one more writing on this topic, and also the choice of writing on this flagrant issue or my dissertation. The choice is not easy, each time I have realized that my utility curve is rather skewed at the southeast (SE) end of the map. I have 24 hr time constraint everyday that I need to spend efficiently on better things in life. Seems like Blogging is not something that I should be focusing on at the moment.

As Rob points out that if others are more vibrantly debating the issue so why should I care at the moment while the issue is not affecting my life and I have got to finish my dissertation before I become an authority on a subject or anything like that (I would recommend the same to those who are protesting this issue without understanding the underlined causes). I have found Hensher and Younge's take on the whole issue rather more intellectually stimulating than the whole debate itself. In their article: Does the right to freedom of speech justify printing the Danish cartoons? Published in guardian UK they argue:
"When one person's liberty collides with another's values, there is no clear occupant of the moral high ground "

Therefore, for me the whole question of Blasphemy boils down to choosing the right combination of liberty and values. To that end the idea of liberty, values and utility is purely subjective and varies from person to person. For a person having greater preference for Values (measured on vertical axis in this case) the indifference curve is skewed on the Southeast SE end of the map. A person with more values will have to accept lot of liberty for even a minor sacrifice in value.

On the other hand a person who prefers liberty more than values the indifference curve is flatter on the Values end (SE). That means sacrificing little liberty will require liberals to accept a major set of conservative values. In third case, for an extremist from any perspective (not Muslims alone) Liberty would be a useless thing and IC is vertical. Concentrating on case I and II what would be the right combination then. Only a constraint like the time constraint in my problem above dictates the choice of right combination. ... Now, I am lost here what kind of constraint Liberals and Conservatives face to accept each others point of view....I am totally lost... Readers! Any word on that.....to complete the analysis. At this moment I consider either Liberty or Value neither inferior nor Giffen (The indifference curve theoretical framework is borrowed from Microeconomics). For my take on the issue check back for Blasphemy III soon.


  • E Mullah,
    Your post has me thinking but I am having trouble putting my thoughts into words at this point.

    Unfortunately, the value of sleep right now(I must go to bed) so that I may have the liberty to respond to your post tomorrow will show its value when we are able to learn from each other in our quest in understanding the big questions of life.

    Please define utility.

    I could not fit it into the above paragraph. ;)
    (One)Big Question of Life:

    Does Allah or Mohammed readily laugh at himself when presented with the dilemas that his creatures continually manifest?

    I think you said Allah or Mohammed would indeed just "smile". :)

    Maybe that is why Allah created man with a sense of humor because he knew how important it would be as man would go through this difficult and sometimes strange experience called life.

    LIFE! Oh, but what a gift we are given!! :)
    BTW, I have visited some of the other Middle Eastern blogs that have linked to your site and I am impressed with the wisdom and insight that many of you project!

    I look forward to future interactions with you! :)
    As much as I selfishly want to hear your feedback, your dissertation IS more important.

    Maybe the answer is to aliquot just 15" to your blog and then be done with it. Then not feel guilty about neglecting your dissertation.

    Or you must take breaks from working on your dissertation in order for your brain to work a it's maximum efficiency, correct? Well? :)

    By Blogger JMJ, at Monday, February 06, 2006 11:10:00 PM  

  • Ah utility!!! Last week when I was teaching utility one of my students asked me a mischievous question: how about applying the concept of utility to real life questions? What if we measure SEX on one axis and Tooth Brushes on the other? Being a Muslim, I should have frowned more than my female students who felt awkward due to the oddity of question and audacity of inquirer. I smiled and commented I have not seen a person who would like to compare pleasure from sex viz a viz pleasure from tooth brush :>

    Well! utility is a term used for satisfaction that is derived from the consumption of several combinations of two goods e.g. food and clothing. Different combinations that give same level of satisfaction/utility would be located on the same curve so a person remains indifferent among those combinations. Such a curve is known as indifference curve. Moving on to a higher curve increases utility. Which consumption bundle a person will choose depends on our income (income is the constraint on our satisfaction derived from consumption. Higher income helps you move on to a higher utility curve. The utility or satisfaction is considered to be maximum at a point where constraint curve becomes tangent to the indifference (utility-level) curve.

    supporting graphs here

    We can apply the same concept to other things. For example 24 hrs are spent either working for leaving or leisure. Theoretically, people can choose different combinations of “work and leisure” but the shape of indifference curve and time line dictates their final choice. It depends what they value more. Sigh….we economist are not spiritual people---but true is that the money is not everything that gives happiness. Buddha—was a prince had the most prosperous life but could not get satisfaction out of it and left everything to get satisfaction through meditation.

    In my choice I cannot increase my utility because I have only 24 hrs in a day and we cannot have more hrs than that.

    Talking about “Liberty and Value,” a person like me would like to have a larger combination of “Liberty and Value” indeed to reach a higher level of satisfaction. However, I need to identify the constraint first to see what combinations can be chosen---
    If I will be able to expand the constraint I may be able to choose a bigger combination of liberty and value both to get a higher level of satisfaction. If we can identify the constraint we can identify the tolerance levels of liberals and conservative and find a right mix.

    Too philosophical---I am at the moment---sorry! I hope you may get something out of it to grasp utility concept.
    Speaking of Mohammad he was a man so definitely he would have laughed but in a moderate manner as we learned from his tradition. I will ask Allah about his choice between smile and laugh when I will see him in havens :)
    In Muslim tradition Allah has 99 names (I don't know why not 100). The names are based on his cherectristics for example "Aleem" means knowledgable. Some of the names meand angry and some means pleased. So if he can get angry definitely he is pleased as well or whatever you have asked...

    I am sure at the moment he is at least smiling on us because the only thing coming out of this conversation is understanding and learning. As far as I know he loves those more who seek knowledge and try to live in peace with each other.

    Yes! LIFE is a beautiful gift of God/Allah whatever we chose to call him. He says in Quran killing an innocent is like killing entire humanity. The things that hardliners are quoting on websites to show threats from Allah are being quoted out of context. Those verses were reveled to prophet under different circumstances that he encountered during his time (I am still a seeker and not a very knowledgeable person about Islam—so don’t test me hard on that. It is not that I am afraid of my failure but it will just require me to spend extra time on learning more about Islam and answering questions rather than finishing my PhD :).

    I appreciate that you have devoted some time to read a different perspective and not weighing in on hardliners perspective only. Your selfishness ;) comes from your desire to increase your utility that is derived from learning and reading the Blogs of unknown or marginalized people. I am as much afraid as you are from those who are presenting a violent image of Islam. I am also afraid of those in the west who don’t want to listen to people like us rather want to exploit the statements of hardliners and reiterate to the world--- see ---didn’t we say Muslims are such! However, I still want to engage both in a dialogue with a belief that may be we can change the world.

    I will not keep people waiting… but after I post my perspective then I will go into hibernation till I finish my research….It has become a question of survival :) I will lose my perks in my current job and my utility level will decline ;)

    On a side note: When a person leaves a comment by logging into Blogger account the comments include email address as well. If you have not received mine yet I will try one more time or may be next time you may leave a comment by logging into your account and I will need not to post my email on Blog for you.

    Have you watched “Syriana” and “Munich.” I would not say ‘or’ you have to watch both to get some perspective on all this. Syriana is a must.

    By Blogger E Mullah الیکٹرونک مُلا, at Tuesday, February 07, 2006 1:25:00 AM  

  • E Mullah,

    I just stumbled across your blog during my reading about the Cartoon War. I got really excited when you mentioned marginal utility because I am an Econ major. =)

    Anyway, what interested me about this post is your Values vs Liberty theory. First, I have to admit that I can't see the image (I assume a graph) beacause my 'net connection has issues. I think I get the gist though.

    I don't think there's much that I can say about blasphemy. It's such a subjective word. I mean, there's even disagreement among Muslims about what it means. Depictions of Mohammad are nothing new... there's one on the North Frieze of the Supreme Court building here in DC, and no one complained about it until CAIR did in 1998. There's hardly an outrage over it because (I guess) either people don't know about it, or the people who do don't find it offensive enough to spread the word. And that's just one modern depiction... Muslims in ages past have drawn Mohammad.

    When you mention 'values', I get the impression that you mean 'values enforced by law'. Many of the Islamists who have spoken out against the cartoons have made it clear that they, too, take this meaning. They want to impose their sharia on the Danish dhimmis. Of course, you also find it amongst the Christian fundamentalists here in the States and in fundamentalist groups of most other religions as well.

    Fundamentalists, in general, try to convince people that only by forcefully imposing their will on others will a decent set of 'values' or 'morals' exist. They argue that without enforcement of social conduct, society will descend into some evil state of anarchy or immorality. (e.g., the 'slippery-slope' argument employed by Pat Robertson et al against gay marriage. 'Next they'll be marrying goats and all hell will break loose' they say)

    I contend, however, that exactly the opposite is true. I wrote up a neat little theory on morality a while ago. Basically, it says that so long as individuals are free to do what they like, without being able to interfere with anyone elses' right to the same, it is in each individual's best interest to behave in a civilized manner. Anyone who does not would suffer the rejection of society.

    Someone told me it was similar to a theory Adam Smith proposed, but I actually haven't read much of his work so I can't say.

    I'd be interested in chatting with you sometime, if you're so inclined. Holler at me. My AIM screenname is the same as my signature.

    By Anonymous Calenelhoss, at Tuesday, February 07, 2006 1:53:00 PM  

  • Calenelhoss: Very interesting. You are right. The Muslim law holds only in a Muslim country. Whatever people are demanding in Muslim world is total ignorance, illiteracy, and stupidity. I wish they understand.

    By Anonymous emullah, at Tuesday, February 07, 2006 5:30:00 PM  

  • "The Muslim law holds only in a Muslim country. Whatever people are demanding in Muslim world is total ignorance, illiteracy, and stupidity. I wish they understand."

    Why are you so different than many of your Muslim collegues? :)

    Aren't you supposed to be working n your dissertation? ;)

    By Blogger JMJ, at Tuesday, February 07, 2006 8:21:00 PM  

  • "Fundamentalists, in general, try to convince people that only by forcefully imposing their will on others will a decent set of 'values' or 'morals' exist."

    Calenelhoss, the simplicity and truth of your comment indicates you are a very wise man.

    E Mullah,
    We have our own "misguided" fundamentalists here in the US as well, as I am sure you have witnessed.

    By Blogger JMJ, at Tuesday, February 07, 2006 8:26:00 PM  

  • e mullah,

    When you take a break from your dissertation, please check this post out from "Iraq, the Model".


    It kind of fits with your "Allah would smile" response. Interesting.

    By Blogger JMJ, at Tuesday, February 07, 2006 10:14:00 PM  

  • WOW! Well from the second Diagram I'll pick the first graph maybe!

    You got me confused there too! I still don't know if I really picked the right graph for myself.

    jmj::: "Why are you so different than many of your Muslim collegues? :)

    A lot of Muslims feel this way, don't worry ;)

    By Blogger Viks, at Wednesday, February 08, 2006 1:35:00 PM  

  • Thank you Viks for your reply.

    Viks : "A lot of Muslims feel this way, don't worry ;)"

    That is very encouraging! :)

    Why do we not hear more from muslims like you and e mullah? Especially if there are a lot of them.

    Because what is happening is that people in the west are beginning to lump ALL muslims into the radical fundamental category. This is obviously not acccurate BUT it is happening. And I fear that if violence continues, the trend will be irreversible.

    People are seeing it as a threat to their survival.


    By Blogger JMJ, at Wednesday, February 08, 2006 7:08:00 PM  

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